The Real Thing

The Real Thing

by Taj Mahal
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The Real Thing

Taj Mahal followed up Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home (1969) with another double-LP concert platter whose title pretty much sums up the contents. The Real Thing (1971) is drawn from a mid-February run of shows at the Fillmore East in New York City where he, Spencer Davis, the Chambers Brothers, and Roberta Flack, among others, shared the bill. Mahal is supported by an interesting extended aggregate with a brass section consisting of Joseph Daley (tuba/horn/trombone), Bob Stewart (horn), and a pair of former Charles Mingus bandmembers, Earl McIntyre (horn) and Howard Johnson (horn). While at times they tend to overpower the usually intimate nature of the performances, that is certainly not the case for the majority of the arrangements. The opener, "Fishin' Blues," is a solo with Mahal accompanying himself on banjo. "Ain't Gwine to Whistle Dixie (Any Mo')" is significantly lengthened from the form found on Giant Step (1968) as it stretches nearly nine minutes and allows plenty of room for interaction, offering up a spirited fife interlude from Mahal. In addition to providing an overview from his back catalog, The Real Thing contains a few new compositions. The full ensemble gets a workout on the funky "Sweet Mama Janisse" and the toe-tappin' rural flavor of the instrumental "Tom and Sally Drake" is lightly augmented by a sole tuba -- presumably that of Johnson. Sleepy John Estes' "Diving Duck Blues" arguably submits the most successful incorporation of brass, sporting a driving, full-throttle rhythm and soulful interpretation.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/05/2000
Label: Sony
UPC: 0074646585924
catalogNumber: 65859
Rank: 14673

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Taj Mahal   Primary Artist,Banjo,Guitar,Harmonica,Fife,Harp,Vocals,national steel guitar,Chromatic Harmonica
Bob Stewart   Horn
Howard Johnson   Horn
John Hall   Guitar
John Simon   Keyboards
Kwasi "Rocky" Dzidzornu   Percussion
Earl McIntyre   Horn
Billy Rich   Bass
Bill Rich   Electric Bass
Greg Thomas   Drums
Joseph Daley   Tuba,Horn,Valve Trombone

Technical Credits

Taj Mahal   Arranger
Buffy Sainte-Marie   Composer
Donovan   Composer
Stanley Crouch   Liner Notes
Yank Rachell   Composer
David Rubinson   Producer
Bruce Steinberg   Cover Design
Bob Irwin   Producer
Howard Fritzson   Art Direction
Lily Lew   Packaging Manager

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The Real Thing 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
glauver More than 1 year ago
My review title seems to be an oxymoron, but, if you listen to this disc, you will agree with me. These songs have a feel good vibe to them. Taj and his group owe as much to The Band or Paul Butterfield as to Muddy Waters and the Chicago blues scene.Taj is a better singer than Butterfield although his guitarist is not in the Bloomfield-Bishop category. John Simon, who helped produce The Band's firsst albums, is a back-up musician here and that could explain why I hear some parallels.The final jam is a bit long but that was the fashion of the times and I have heard worse. I think this CD might be a better place to enter the Mahal canon than A Giant Step/De Old Folks at Home CD, which I also own. I plan to purchase more Taj Mahal soon. PS.Note the running times of some of the songs are wrong. The total running time is 66:56. 4 1/2 stars